Personal Finance Blog for Retirement and Investment Advice

New Survey Reveals Majority of Americans Now Live Paycheck-to-Paycheck Due to COVID-19 Pandemic… Here’s How to Avoid That

A new survey from Highland Solutions revealed some startling stats about Americans’ spending habits during the pandemic. How many of these describe your situation?

  • 63% are living paycheck to paycheck
  • 47% have run out of their emergency savings
  • More than one-third have opened up a new credit card since the pandemic to help cover expenses
  • 42% have taken on more debt than normal, and nearly a third have racked up over $10,000 in new debt (a recipe for disaster)
  • 82% could not cover a surprise $500 expense
  • 67% regret not having enough savings before the pandemic hit

So How the Heck Did We Dig Ourselves into this Debt Hole?

For starters, you only need to look no further than the conventional advice about emergency funds. [Read more…] “New Survey Reveals Majority of Americans Now Live Paycheck-to-Paycheck Due to COVID-19 Pandemic… Here’s How to Avoid That”

Taxmageddon is coming – Here’s How to Protect Yourself

President-elect Joe Biden has repeatedly said he will increase numerous taxes and eliminate the Trump tax cuts on “day one,” which would impose a $2,000 annual tax hike on a median-income family of four.

He has promised to as much as double the capital gains tax rates on your investments.

Biden/Harris have proposed canceling student loan debt and are being encouraged to do that by executive order as soon as possible. It would add hundreds of billions of dollars to our already-skyrocketing national debt.

In reality, there’s no such thing as “canceling” or “forgiving” student debt – they can call it anything they want, but it simply means sending the bill to the taxpayers.

Biden wants to raise the corporate tax rate by 33%. [Read more…] “Taxmageddon is coming – Here’s How to Protect Yourself”

What Fairy Tales and Myths is Your Financial Advisor Feeding You?

I’ve spent the last two decades proving there are many investing and retirement planning myths, lies, and fairy tales that most people and financial representatives blindly accept as fact.

It’s really not their fault. Wall Street spends billions of dollars every year to brainwash us.

As the late President John F. Kennedy observed…

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

Here are 3 fairy tales you’ve probably heard from your financial advisor and the facts about each:

Fairy Tale #1: You Must Risk Your Money in Order to Grow an Adequate Nest-Egg

This is undoubtedly Wall Street’s BIGGEST lie. [Read more…] “What Fairy Tales and Myths is Your Financial Advisor Feeding You?”

The 5 Biggest Threats to Your Retirement Security Today

Recent studies and surveys show that pre-retirees and retirees fear these five threats to their retirement finances most – and with good reason. Which of these keep you up at night?

Retirement Security Threat #1: Outliving Your Money

This is such a big and scary threat that some people say they would rather die before their time than run out of money.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of outliving your money is all too real. The average 65-year-old will outlive their savings by almost a decade, according to a recent study by the World Economic Forum.

To determine how much money you’ll need to have saved by the time you retire, a good guideline is the “Rule of 25,” which says you should multiply your total annual expenses by 25. By that measure, to have $100,000 per year (don’t forget to adjust for inflation) to spend in retirement, you’ll need to save $2.5 million.

It’s also important to consider that you may well live longer than you imagine, and studies show people tend to underestimate their life expectancy.

Retirement Security Threat #2: Market Risk

[Read more…] “The 5 Biggest Threats to Your Retirement Security Today”

Why the Best Way to Get Cash Fast is a Bank On Yourself Policy Loan

When the Coronavirus pandemic and shutdown hit, millions of people found themselves out of a job, and many others had their hours and pay cut.

The government stepped in to provide stimulus, but many people had to wait weeks or even months to receive it.

And just when many people needed fast access to cash, charge card limits were reduced or even canceled without warning.

As Mark Twain wryly noted…

A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.”

Bank On Yourself Comes to the Rescue…

When you need fast access to cash, what’s the fastest and easiest way to get it? A Bank On Yourself policy loan because it’s money you can get your hands on: [Read more…] “Why the Best Way to Get Cash Fast is a Bank On Yourself Policy Loan”

Why More Experts Are Now Saying It’s Time to Ditch Your 401(k)

A growing number of retirement planning experts are joining the chorus of people saying 401(k) plans no longer make sense for savers in recent articles on Motley Fool, Bloomberg, MarketWatch, and other major publications.

They’re lamenting that one of the biggest appeals of the 401(k) – the ability to make contributions with untaxed dollars in exchange for tax-deferred growth and withdrawals – is disappearing.

The national debt was already skyrocketing before the pandemic spurred the biggest fiscal stimulus programs in history. And a surge in unemployment has lowered tax revenue for federal and state governments.

What do governments typically do to counter budget deficits?

They raise taxes, of course!

And as taxes rise, deferring them in a 401(k) or IRA means you’ll pay more later – potentially a lot more.

Even before the pandemic, the Center for Retirement Research said people lose 25%-33% of the value of their 401(k) to taxes… and most people are shocked when it happens because they forget they’ll owe the IRS taxes on every penny they’ve put in and every penny of growth they’ve deferred.

Do you know what the tax rates will be in 20 or 30 years from now? For that matter, do you know what they’ll be next year or in two years?

[Read more…] “Why More Experts Are Now Saying It’s Time to Ditch Your 401(k)”

72% of Americans Are Stressed About Money – Here’s How to Break Free of It

If you’re feeling stressed about money thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic and shutdown, you’re not alone.

72% of Americans report feeling stressed about money within the last month, according to a new survey by the American Psychological Association. It doesn’t help that 35% of Americans can’t last even one month on their savings, according to the July 2020 Retirement Confidence Index.

So how did we get here… and what can you do about it?

Among the many bits of wealth-killing conventional financial “wisdom” is the recommendation that you have an emergency fund equal to 3 to 6 months of your household expenses.

Almost every financial “expert” parrots this advice, even though millions of Americans were out of work for more than a year in the last major recession!

So here’s a 3-step plan to move towards a financially stress-free life…

Step #1: Start Working Towards a Safe and Liquid Emergency Fund Equal to Two Years of Your Household Expenses

[Read more…] “72% of Americans Are Stressed About Money – Here’s How to Break Free of It”

From “Bank On Yourself is a Scam” to “This Can Work for Everyone!”

Dan Proskauer is a technology executive for a major health care company who heard a radio ad for Bank On Yourself in 2009 that caught his attention. At that time, the economy was in a deep recession, and the stock market was plunging.

For several years, Dan had felt frustrated because he’d been doing all the “right things” he’d been taught to do with his finances… but those “right things” were failing him – and most other Americans – miserably.

Having been burned numerous times by following the conventional financial “wisdom,” Dan was understandably very skeptical of Bank On Yourself. It sounded “too good to be true.” In fact, it sounded like it must be a scam!

(I recently interviewed Dan about his 11-year journey with Bank On Yourself, and you can click here to skip to hear the interview and/or read a transcript of it.) [Read more…] “From “Bank On Yourself is a Scam” to “This Can Work for Everyone!””

Coronavirus Pandemic Exposes Cracks in 401(k) Plans

I’ve written extensively about why more and more experts are warning that the 401(k) is an experiment that’s failed, and why the man considered to be the “father” of the 401(k) says it’s a monster that should be destroyed.

But the pandemic, shutdown and resulting economic downturn have exposed dangerous cracks in the 401(k) system. I’ll explain three of them here and show you how to protect yourself…

New 401(k) Problem #1: Companies are Suspending Matching Contributions

Tens of millions of workers have already been affected, and more companies have announced their plans to suspend the 401(k) match.

That’s a real blow for employees who’ve come to think of the match as “free money” and assumed it’s a perk that won’t be yanked with little warning.

But the reality is that the employer match isn’t really “free money” at all. According to a study by the Center for Retirement Research, for every dollar an employer contributes to your 401(k) match, they pay 90 cents less in salary to men and 99 cents less to women!

Translation: For every matching dollar you’re given, you really only receive 10 cents or less in total compensation. [Read more…] “Coronavirus Pandemic Exposes Cracks in 401(k) Plans”

How to Be Financially Prepared for Any Emergency or Black Swan Event

By definition, an “emergency” is an unexpected and difficult or dangerous situation which happens suddenly and requires quick action to deal with it.

The unexpected doesn’t wait around for you to get your act together. But does that mean you can’t be prepared for an emergency… even one as devastating as the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown?

Are you willing to play a little game of the imagination and find out?

What if you were forewarned two years ago that in March of 2020…

  • We’d be in the grips of a pandemic and there would be a shutdown of virtually the entire economy
  • Tens of millions of people would lose their jobs and you could be one of them. And many others would have their hours and pay cut
  • The government would step in and provide stimulus, but it could take a month or two or more until you receive it
  • Your charge card limits could be reduced or even canceled without warning
  • Stock market volatility would return with a vengeance and your plans for retirement could be upended for years or even a decade to come
  • People of any age could be debilitated or even die after being infected with the virus

If You Had Been Warned of This Two Years Ago, What Would You Have Done Differently?

[Read more…] “How to Be Financially Prepared for Any Emergency or Black Swan Event”